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In March of this year I had the humbling privilege of competing in the GNC Pro Deadlift at the Arnold Classic. The Arnold Classic typically promises to be an experience of a lifetime and this year was no exception. This was my third time competing in this contest and the story of my first two years in this contest was one of underperformance. Despite what has happened in the past, this year I was determined to for once perform at a level that I am capable of performing at.
There were sure to be bumps in the road. After all, life typically does not turn out the way we would like to all the time. One of the potential obstacles to plan for this year was a move half-way across the country and the beginnings of a new career, and all this right in the middle of my peaking cycle leading up to the Arnold. My motto going into the Arnold this year was, “When challenges arise, it may be tough on everybody else but it is just right for me.” Challenges don’t have to be looked at as problems. I prefer to look at them as opportunities to learn and to grow as a person. Often, your life is simply the sum of your thoughts – your thoughts determine your actions - put positive thoughts in your mind and life usually turns out great. Put negative thoughts in and life is almost sure to be a disappointment.
Training leading up to the Arnold was very good. It is the first training cycle in almost three years where I felt absolutely no pain in the spinal erector that I tore three years ago. There were hitches along the way, but I was determined to absorb every hitch, learn from it, and move forward without looking back. This approach proved to be paying dividends when I hit my last heavy deadlift session before the contest. I managed to pull 732 for a very easy double and would have gone for a third rep if the plates had not fallen off of one side after the second rep. At this point, my mind was in a good place. I knew that the strength was there. Now, the only thing left to do was follow-through on big stage!
All the warm-ups leading up to the meet were very fast and easy. I felt great about this contest and was anxious to get on stage and start the pulling. My going into this contest, as with any, was to pull a personal record (my previous PR was 777). I decided to open up with 722 – it felt easy but lacked some speed due to a long waiting period between warm-ups and the actual contest. I called for 755 on the second attempt and it felt very strong. At this point I knew a personal record was in firing range. I just had to pull the trigger and hit the target. With no hesitation I marched to the judges’ table and confidently called for 355 kg (782 lbs.). As soon as those words, “Seven-eighty-two” came out of my mouth my intensity and focus hit a level they have never reached before. The head judge called me out to the platform and I pulled with everything I had – pretty good speed off of the floor, a slight stall at the knee, and then a strong lockout. I set the barbell down and turned to see if the lift was passed. When I saw those three white lights come on I was absolutely overtaken with emotion. The celebration was on!!
As always, the best part of the entire weekend was the people that I got to spend it with. A huge congrats goes to TEAM HMB member Brad Gillingham – Brad has won this contest every single year – he may be THE classiest man in the sport, and one of the most accomplished as well. I want to thank TEAM HMB members Eric Todd, Justin Blake and Jennifer Dietrick for all their support – all great people and very successful in their sports of choice. I cannot thank Shawn Baier and Molly Andrusyk of TEAM HMB for all of their support. They are class people from a class organization. They go out of their way to treat me well and it does not go overlooked. I will be competing in the GNC Pro Deadlift at the Empire Classic on April 28th. Check out my future blogs for details and updates on this training cycle. Be sure to take your HMB every day and experience the recovery boost of your life. Also check out Optimum Nutrition’s Performance Whey – it is a great combination of fast and slow absorbing high quality protein that will help your recovery and gain lean body mass like few other proteins will.